A Roman dog and a mysterious graffito

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orielensis, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    On first sight, this coin looks like a pretty standard, well-worn Roman Republican denarius. The hunting themed type showing Diana, a hound, and a hunting spear is rather popular, but stylistically and condition-wise, this example is rather plain:

    Römische Republik – RRC 394:1a, Denar, C. Postumius, Diana und Hund.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer C. Postumius, AR denarius, 74 BC, Rome mint. Obv: Bust of Diana r., draped, with bow and quiver over shoulder. Rev: C. POSTVMI AT/TA (ligated); hound running r.; below, spear (with graffiti: MABIEN). 18mm, 3.85g. Ref: RRC 394/1a.

    Yet, a closer look reveals a special detail – there is some remarkable ancient "damage" on the reverse:


    Someone has scratched a series of letters into the reverse, which I read as MABIEN. Although such graffiti are usually considered undersirable by collectors, I find that this inscription adds a lot of interest to my coin.

    I can only speculate about its meaning, but such longer graffiti on ancient coins often abbreviate personal names. Considering that the letters MA in inscriptions often abbreviate "Marcus" or a similar praenomen, and that the nomen gentile "Bienus" is well-attested in Roman antiquity, something along the lines of "Marcus Bienus" appears thinkable. In any case, this is a fascinating trace of ancient use!

    Please post you Roman Republican coins with graffiti, banker's marks, or other interesting ancient "damage"!
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
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  3. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    GREAT COIN, @Orielensis ! I think that graffiti is a very cool addition! That coin truly represents folks during that time. Nice.

    Banker's Mark and strategic scratch...
    Fat Elvis chillin' on Ventura Highway???

    Roman Republic
    42 BCE
    Moneyer: L Livineius Regulus (one of 4 Moneyers that year! A quattuorvirate)
    AR Denarius 3.7g, 19mm
    Obv: Bare head of the praetor L. Livineius Regulus right
    Rev: Gladiatorial scene; in foreground, one man attacks lion with spear; in back ground, second man with shield and sword attacks panther; on left, wounded boar; in exergue, L. REGVLVS
    Ref: Sear 489; Crawford 494/30; Syd. 1112
    Comment: bankers mark and scratch on obverse. I love the gentle wear on the rough gladiatorial scene!
  4. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    I too find that graffito interesting. In fact, I used to collect coins with (artistic) graffiti on them. But they were merely old. Not ancient.

    Graffiti and counterstamps and other marks can sometimes provide pretty fascinating clues to the backstory, as was the case with that piece I just linked to. But in so many cases like with your coin there, it's just a tantalizing glimpse at a story that is lost to time.

    Still, the mysteries can be fun, too.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Orielensis like this.
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    The Romans did not invent scratching their initials or name on a coin. My Sikyon stater bears a Greek Phi on each side. I do wish the owner had spelled out the name perhaps in the space available on the obverse exergue. Whoever he was my Phriend made this coin more affordable for me. Still, I bought it for the snake and not the graffiti.
    PeteB, Edessa, Marsyas Mike and 11 others like this.
  6. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    Defaced face with bankers marks and an X scratched into the reverse.
    c2~0.jpg M. Sergius Silus. 116-115 BC. AR Denarius.
    Obv: Helmeted head of Roma right; EX S C before, ROMA and X behind.
    Rev: Horseman galloping left, holding sword and head of barbarian; Q and M SERGI/SILVS below.
    Crawford 286/1
  7. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    This one knew that I was going to capture this coin 2000 years in the Future. Quite the psychic when he put my initial on the reverse...

    Marc Antony
    32-31 BCE
    AR Denarius
    Legio X Equestris - Caesar Denarius
    B bankers mark Eagle Galley Standards
  8. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I've posted this coin before, with what look like ancient bankers' marks on the obverse to the left of Medusa's mouth. To me, they make her look more fierce:

    Roman Republic, L. Plautius Plancus, AR Denarius, 47 BCE, Rome mint. Obv. Facing head of Medusa with coiled snake on either side of face [bankers’ marks to left of mouth], L. PLAVTIVS below / Rev. Winged Aurora flying right, holding palm frond and conducting the four horses of the sun, PLANCVS below. RSC I Plautia 15, Crawford 453/1a, Sydenham 959, Sear RCV I 429, BMCRR Rome 4004. 18 mm., 4.0 g. RRDP die matches: Schaefer Binder 9, p. 185-0, Die Type XXVI.

    Plautius Plancus - Medusa denarius (seller image) jpg version.jpg
    Plautius Plancus-Medusa denarius Obv. 3.jpg
    PeteB, Edessa, Marsyas Mike and 9 others like this.
  9. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    I'm not sure if it's an "N" or a "Z" banker's mark that was on my old JC denarius. I like it as a Z, because Zorro.png

    PeteB, Edessa, Orielensis and 8 others like this.
  10. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    I won this coin in a recent CNG e-auction:
    (These are CNG's photos, not mine.)
    The inscription included: ". . . interesting graffiti (Aramaic letters) on obverse and reverse."

    I'll have to take their word for it, since I know nothing about the Aramaic language. Even trying to match these scratches up with images of Aramaic letters has been thus far fruitless. Anyone know why these were called Aramaic letters rather than, say, Phoenician?
    TuckHard, Edessa, DonnaML and 4 others like this.
  11. Archeocultura

    Archeocultura Well-Known Member

    Nice Domitian with probable name. Domit XV.jpg Domit XV-2 detail.jpg
    TuckHard, Edessa, DonnaML and 4 others like this.
  12. Jersey magic man

    Jersey magic man Supporter! Supporter

    I think it may be the earliest form of "where's George". Just someone placing a mark on the coin to see if he/she ever gets it back in circulation?
    Edessa and hotwheelsearl like this.
  13. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

    I am afraid that the banker's marks on my Plautia 15 example are not quite as artistically placed as on TIF's. This looks like the Romans were playing an SEC West team (back in the old days when we still had College Football).

    Johndakerftw, Bing, TuckHard and 2 others like this.
  14. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    My Marcian solidus has a very small and light X on each side of his bust, and an N to the left of the large cross on the reverse. They are nearly nnoticeable in hand and so are not distracting to me.

    Marcian, Eastern Roman Empire
    AV solidus
    Obv: D N MARCIA-NVS P F AVG, diademed, helmeted and cuirassed three-quarter facing bust, holding spear over shoulder and shield decorated with horseman
    Rev: VICTORI-A AVGGG, Victory standing left, holding long jeweled cross, star in right field
    Mint: Constantinople
    Mintmark: CONOB
    Date: 450-457 AD
    Ref: RIC 510
    Size: 4.46 gr., 21 mm wide

  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Since TIF hasn't posted in this thread so far as I can tell, could you possibly mean the example I posted? I know that there are so many women on Coin Talk that it's hard to tell us apart, but I'm the one in New York, and I think she's the one in Texas.
  16. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

  17. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

    Sorry, I meant to say you, Donna. You both make such good posts that I confused the threads. Sort of like when your 8-track tape gets jammed From coming apart where you put the scotch tape the last time it broke.
    DonnaML likes this.
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